On August 10, 2013 Houston Mayor Annise Parker hosted her third annual Back to School Fest (BTSF) on the campus of the University of Houston. The event’s purpose is to ensure that 25,000 area students from kindergarten to fifth grade are prepared to begin school ready to learn on the first day. As in the previous two years, this year’s event offered school supplies, backpacks, clothes, City of Houston information, health screenings, immunizations, and social service resources to families so they could focus on sending healthy, prepared children back to the classroom to learn.
Students from over eight school districts and nearly 150 zip codes were represented at the BTSF. Parents and their children had the opportunity to interact with almost 50 exhibitors ranging from the Boy and Girl Scouts of America, Catholic Charities, Crime Stoppers, Harris County Social Services, the Houston Area Urban League, the Houston Food Bank, LULAC, METRO, Neighborhood Centers Inc., to the United Way. The University of Houston showcased 15 of its colleges and programs along with 10 departments from the City of Houston.
- The Health & Human Services Department screened 1,400 families and connected them to health care services
- The Fire Department equipped families with smoke alarms
- The Houston Public Library registered hundreds of families for library cards
- The Parks Department provided lunch for each child, and Target Hunger supplied nonperishable food for families
- An estimated value of $85,000 in health-care related costs: Blue Cross/Blue Shield Care Van serviced 776 children by administering vaccines
- Each student received a dental care kit (toothbrush, floss, and toothbrush cover)
- Five thousand mouth guards were dispensed to students participating in after-school sports programs
- The Texas Barber Colleges & Hairstyling Schools furnished haircut vouchers for all children in attendance
- Just over 15,000 undergarments were distributed through the nonprofit Undies for Everyone
- Every child at the event was given a fingerprint kit donated by Crime Stoppers
- At a rate of approximately 117 students per hour, the University of Houston’s College of Optometry and the City’s Health Department administered vision screenings to 938 children. Of those screened 182 qualified to receive vouchers to see a physician and obtain glasses free of charge.